Sherlock Holmes isn't just on the silver screen this month -- you can also catch Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictitious detective on the small screen, as well, thanks to Legacy Interactive's hidden-object game (HOG) The Lost Cases of 221B Baker Street (also known as The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes 2.)
Fans of the first game, 2008's The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes -- including the Gamezebo crew -- will be pleased to know the sequel retains the fun and challenging gameplay found in the original, but dishes up 16 new cases to solve.
You'll travel back to 221 Baker St. as Sherlock Holmes, along with his trusted colleague, Dr. Watson, to tackle a handful of Victorian-era cases in England -- usually involving a mysterious death, of course. With a keen eye, magnifying glass and some serious deduction, you can narrow down your suspects until you've isolated the guilty party.
While roaming around England to visit more than 40 locations -- including some famous ones, including Stonehenge and Marlsbury Castle -- you'll spend much of your time finding well-hidden objects in busy environments. A list of items to look for is listed on the left-hand side of the screen and you'll carefully scour the scene to find them all, such as a handkerchief, knife, walking stick, police badge and pair of fingerless gloves. Some of the items will be evidence and might initiate a minigame (more on this in minute).
If you have trouble finding an object you can click to turn your mouse into a magnifying glass to zoom in closer to the messy environment, be it a dusty office, seaside murder scene or theatrical stage. If you really get stuck, click on the Hint button, which reveals where a hard-to-find object is, plus you can add more Hints by finding a smoking pipe per level. If you click incorrectly too many times the mouse cursor spins around uncontrollably for a few seconds.
But unlike other HOGs, The Lost Cases of 221B Baker Street is packed with a variety of minigames and other ancillary puzzles. In some cases they're played while performing the main HOG exercises -- such as piecing together a torn letter or brushing away dirt from an archeological site and then compiling the broken pieces into a vase -- but at other times these minigames take place between environments. These include spot-the-differences, cryptograms, sliding tile puzzles ("traffic jam" variety), jigsaws, clock conundrums, and much more. The developers did a great job keeping the minigames fresh and relevant to the story and atmosphere.
At the end of each case, you'll drag and drop six suspects into the right spot based on your onscreen instructions, such as "old," "female," wears black," "rosy cheeks," "earrings" and "cape" and so on. You might also play a Concentration-like memory game before deducing who the culprit is. Once you solve the crime you'll be treated to an enjoyable, animated sequence that shows what happened, and how Holmes figured it all out. On a related note, the graphics are much better in this sequel than its 2 year-old predecessor, and the voice-acting is just as good (the dialogue is a real highlight here). The game features more than 100 characters, some of which might be familiar to fans of Doyle's fiction.
But perfect it is not. The Lost Cases of 221B Baker Street does have both a "timed" or "relaxed" option, but items are always in the same place per level, therefore hurting its replayability. But in the game's defense, there are 16 cases to solve, which is terrific. One of my favorites is related to Jack the Ripper, where an expert on the serial killer is murdered himself before the opening of an exhibit at a wax museum.
Armchair sleuths who enjoy HOGs and other head-scratching puzzles will find this detective adventure a gratifying download.
- Very good HOG with many ancillary puzzles. Well-written dialogue, familiar characters and good voice acting. Sixteen cases to solve. Good use of detective theme. Improved graphics and magnifying glass from first game. Choice of timed or relaxed play.
- Item list is the same each playthrough, which hurts replayability somewhat.